Over the last couple of years I have been plagued with daily headaches.  I have tried nearly everything to remedy them, from medication and diet, to massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic treatments, with no success.  It’s been a slippery slope of generalized exhaustion and pain, resulting in weight gain and emotional depletion.  In the pursuit of a more centred me, I have recently made a concerted effort to return to the yoga mat to achieve a little zen.

My first effort was a class at a local hot yoga studio.  Previous classes had taught me a lesson; 90 minutes of intense yoga poses in 105* heat necessitates  hydration.  My last hot yoga class, over three years ago, had resulted in a middle of the night awakening with a migraine that wouldn’t abate for over 48 hours.  The last thing I needed was a repeat of that experience, so I made sure that I hydrated throughout the day prior to the class.  I felt ready.  I was going to find my spiritual centre and reacquaint myself with the athletic me, even if it was hiding beneath 35 pounds of lethargy.

I arrived early and found a place at the back of the class and placed my water and towel near the wall.  I laid down on my mat in savasana and began to ready myself for the upcoming class.  My years of yoga practise returned to me like an old friend;  I easily found the quiet place within me.

Hey, I was thinking, I can do this. 

A few minutes later I heard a shuffling noise beside me and cracked open my left eye.

Hmmmm… I mused (my zen rapidly retreating), apparently Barbie does hot yoga too.

She was stretched out beside me, wearing a pink neon Lululemon tube top and what appeared to be boy short bikini bottoms.  Her hair was gleaming and her make-up flawless.  I glanced down sheepishly at my yoga capris, barely restraining my buddha belly and tee-shirt.

Evidently I missed the memo.  

I began imagining stretching a clothesline from one of her bony hips across to the other and then hanging tiny little Barbie clothes with itsy bitsy Barbie clothespins.

What was wrong with me???

I tried to return to my quiet place and ignore the smell of coconut body balm wafting over toward me from Barbie er, the young woman lying beside me.

Why did SHE have to choose to lay down beside ME? 

Oh man…I was unravelling, and the class hadn’t even started.

OK.  Enough of that now.  I had to  regain control.  Close your eyes and find your happy place. 

Focus. 

…oh no… didn’t the instructor say,, “Don’t focus”?

Crap! 

Many people flooded the room and I was relieved to see all shapes, sizes and ages emerging through the door.  A very large man settled his things on my other side, and the class began.  The intensity of exercising in 105* is really something to experience and, very quickly, we all began to sweat.  I should note that some of us perspire…and some of us sweat.   The difference being, of course, that sweat really stinks.

I was determined to stay in my happy place and attempted to ignore the  intense odour emitting from the large man beside me.  As we transitioned into warrior pose, he extended his arms in my direction, and launched streams of sweat off his fingertips, spraying me in the face and body.

SPLAT!

I was so disgusted that I froze, doing the only thing I could think of.  I shook his sweat off, mopped my face with my towel, and resumed the pose.  But who was I kidding?  I knew then and there that it was over.  My quest for zen was a flop.  I was trapped, sandwiched between Miss America and Mr. Rotting Onion.

My life seems to be like that these days; a series of bungles and missteps.  Most of the time I still manage to laugh at them, so I must be ahead of the game.  I feel that my experience in the yoga class was truly a metaphor for my course my life has taken.

I recently read a book about a woman who lost her memory and awoke thinking that she was ten years younger.  I felt acutely akin to the character and all she went through.  I realize that 20 something men are not looking my way as I pass, like they did when I was in my thirties.  I’m not at the gym 6 days a week anymore, and you certainly couldn’t bounce a quarter off of my rear end.  I should be clear that this is not my mission in life and that, no,  I do not feel defined by the attention of post-pubescent males…but it’s a change indeed.  Many days I find myself wondering, Where did I go?

At the end of the novel, there were some questions offered for reflection.  One question asked what my 10-year-younger-self would think of the present day me.  In truth, I think that the 30-something me would be absolutely stunned and probably a little disappointed.   I feel that I woke up one day and found myself in the 40-somethings, wondering where my 30s went, and my youth and beauty with them.

I know, where they went, without a doubt.  They went with my priorities changing from a focus on myself to a focus on my child.  It began with motherhood, which has been an all-consuming experience for me.  My daughter is my everything, my world, my miraculous, shining star.  She is an incredible person that I feel so blessed to have the honour of mothering.  So my 30-something-self really has absolutely no clue.

However, somewhere along the way, I vanished and that isn’t healthy either.

Life is all about balance…on and off the mat.

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